As life seems to settle into a routine of primarily online interactions, masked faces and empty streets, I still spend time trying to make sense of the Draw Me a Home project. Writing about the View From My Window last week reminded me of days spent staring out of the window often while listening to old tape machines. Don’t worry I’m not going to go on a nostalgia trip here despite my very fond memories of those domestic objects that are now so out of date. I was thinking of them recently because of the pause button- the one that either froze the image in the case of the VHS player or made the room go quiet when we paused the music. The reason I return to these old technologies’ pause function is to do with the way we seem to currently experience and articulate time. And with the digital overload of projects, meetings, exhibitions and films to view as well as training and socialising sessions to attend I sense a growing need as an artist to press pause, to take time out and wherever possible use the time in a more reflective way.
Photo: Performative installation from Martin Creed's exhibition Toast, Hauser & Wirth Gallery (2019).
There is also a mounting urge to resist the pressure to be endlessly productive when catastrophe is raging around us. In that respect it is refreshing to discover artworks whose pace is slowed down to allow for more careful and studied consideration. One such work is Lazy Nigel by Simon Gush. This ten minute film (which must be watched without pressing pause) questions productivity in an explicitly playful way. The titular Nigel is in fact a small town, which Gush finds practically empty and somewhat ghostly when he first visits on a Friday afternoon. Lazy Nigel is a beautifully constructed meditation on the ways in which we view and relate to work, calling for an expanded idea of productivity. Citing the saying '8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for what we will' - Gush suggests that 'what we will' offers interesting possibilities- a time that isn't work nor laziness but 'something else'. The work takes us on a ride around Nigel, a town emptied of its workers who leave it on weekends, and where on repeat visits Gush also finds quiet fairgrounds, random bikes, a circus and some fishing spots. The film ends at the Lake, where Gush films a local fisherman's creation- an air canon designed to fire bait - the ultimate frivolity or as Gush's final note states 'Not work. Not Laziness. Something Else'.
Maybe 'something else', which isn't work, nor laziness is the time we 'press pause' - a time where productivity as we know it is stalled for the sake of 'what we will' it to be - a time for close observation (as advocated by Kaprow in my earlier post), play, and experimentation. And just in case your are left wondering how this particular type of resisting production relates to home- I'll write more about close observations of home - or what's known in art speak as the 'still life', next time.
If you'd like to read more about the idea of taking time out and laying fallow- especially in times of uncertainty - have a look at this article written in 2015 (!) by Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney